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Spatio-temporal remote sensing of vertical and seasonal chlorophyll-a:b ratio in Tamarix ramosissima

Maina, John Nyongesah, Li, Pingheng, Xu, Lu, Wang, Quan
International journal of remote sensing 2019 v.40 no.9 pp. 3504-3517
Tamarix ramosissima, acclimation, basins, canopy, chlorophyll, data collection, dry environmental conditions, ecosystems, hinterland, leaves, light intensity, nitrogen content, normalized difference vegetation index, photochemistry, photosynthesis, reflectance, remote sensing, seasonal variation, vegetation, China
Remotely sensed spectral reflectance data have provided avenues for large-scale non-destructive estimation of temporal and spatial variations of physiological processes in plants. This study established the potential for tracking (chlorophyll) chl-a:b ratio in Tamarix ramosissima based on -leaf-scale photochemical reflectance index (PRI) at Fukang Station of Desert Ecology in the hinterland of the Junggar Basin, Xinjiang, northwest China. Leaves were sampled on a monthly basis over a 3-year growing period. T. ramosissima tolerance to the fragile arid conditions revealed higher coefficient of determination (R² > 0.6) between chl-a:b ratio and N content at each light condition. This implied a higher potential for irradiance acclimation through plasticity in photosynthetic apparatus, and hence an important attribute for colonizing wider desert ecological range. PRI was negatively correlated to chl-a:b ratio regardless of season but was more sensitive to changes in light condition. The modified PRI (PRIₘₒd, R₅₁₀–R₅₇₀ nm) performed better than the original PRI (PRI, R₅₃₁–R₅₇₀ nm) with R² improvement in all data sets of this species. These results implied that seasonality and leaf age, within canopy resource variation and the individual species must be considered when applying PRIₘₒd to estimate chl-a:b ratio. Application of empirical indices avails a non-destructive timely leaf-level, species and site-specific avenue of detecting vegetation status in arid ecosystems. Remote estimation of chl-a:b ratio obtained at leaf scale in this study could be scaled to ecosystem and global scale by effective estimation of spatial distribution and seasonal variation using other pigment-related vegetation index such as the normalized difference vegetation index, or combination of PRI and the water band index.